In last week's 19th Hole Mr. W. Travis Walton of Abilene, Texas, considering the sad times on which baseball's minor leagues have fallen, also came up with some major thoughts on the contemporary sporting scene. "Before World War II," wrote Mr. Walton, in part, "the American public was a nation of watchers. Times have changed. America has become a nation of doers."
Two sports events of worldwide importance just last week showed me again how significantly SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S writers and readers are a family of "doers." In Dublin, Ireland, in what surely must rank as the single most extraordinary track event in history, four milers from three nations substantially bettered the world record for the mile, and a fifth ran well under the once-fabled four-minute mile (see page 26). Yet the talk from Dublin's spanking new Santry cinder track centered not only on the new records but also on the astounding springiness and condition of the track on which the mile was run—the track which was built with a substantial assist from Associate Editor Gerald Holland and the readers of this magazine (Mr. McDonough's Magic Shovel, SI, July 29, '57).
Last January, Dublin's ubiquitous amateur sports promoter, Billy Morton, wrote Holland, "Your readers can take good credit for all they have done for us." And last week world-record miler Herb Elliott said, "I intend to take particulars of this superb track back to Australia."
Last week also, in Miami Beach, another doer met with singular success. Charles Goren, whose sage and sprightly advice on cards has become such a highly anticipated part of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S weekly fare, with his partner, Mrs. Helen Sobel, ran off with the Life Masters Pairs Bridge Championships for the second time in the 19 years they have been playing bridge together.
Goren and Mrs. Sobel won this most important of championships the hard way. After taking an early lead, they slipped behind and in the third round were in ninth place. Then, after what all observers called "a brilliant finish" on the third and most pressure-filled day of the tournament, they won by a slim margin of six points. Bridge players take note: the margin of victory might very well have been one of the key hands in the last round, in which Goren "aggressively refrained" from doubling a five-spade bid that was made at nearly every table.
His column next week, a further account of the tournament, will be still another example of the happy habit SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has of bringing you the doings of sport by the doers themselves.